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Soccer camp teaching fundamentals

BY VICTORIA KIPP | JULY 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa City Parks and Recreation employees Dani Meirick and Jennifer Dooper are passionate about soccer — it's their favorite sport. The pair have spent the past five weeks teaching different sports camps ranging from floor hockey to basketball.

But soccer is their favorite, and Meirick and Dooper are excited to teach the kids to play the game that they love.

Parks and Recreation is trying to catch the eye of kids starting at a young age.

The instructors said they enjoyed showing each camper the different skills, but they understand that the youngsters need to learn much more basic maneuvers than college-level soccer.

"We are having a lot of fun with this camp," Dooper said. "Every day we do basic dribbling, basic shooting, and basic passing."

The camp is set up so that the kids can move at a pace that they can handle and have their own control over the ball.  

"It's moving at a lot slower pace than we're used to," Dooper said. "But it's really neat, and I think the kids are having a lot of fun, too."

The 6- to 8-year-old camp contains mostly children who have never played soccer before. They are there to learn the fundamentals of the game so that they can advance to more technical play.

Seven-year-old Derek Adams has had some prior experience playing on a soccer team, father Tim Adams said. Being back here at the soccer camp, though, is helping him brush up on his fundamentals for the next time he plays on a team. He is planning on playing organized soccer again this year Adams said.  

"If they have played before, it's been a little bit of exposure," Meirick said. "They are still in that beginning stage, so we are just trying to get them used to the fundamentals of the game — they can build on those as they grow."

The kids were showing growth in their skills already, even after just day two of the four-day camp on Tuesday. Meirick and Dooper said they were pleased to see that they are becoming little kickers so quickly.

The 9- to 12-year-old group has a little more experience than the younger group, though the focus on instruction is the same.

"The older group is definitely more advanced," Meirick said. "A lot of the drills we do with the two groups overlap; we just use more advanced skills with the older group and move at a faster pace."

When the campers had time for their first scrimmage, they all ran after the ball at once instead of staying in their designated positions. But Meirick and Dooper patiently explained why the kids needed to stay a distance away from each other.

The game went more smoothly from there.

"It's obviously not going to be your super-organized pass around, but it is good to see them try to pass to a teammate," Meirick said. "Even if it doesn't get there, it's good to get them sort out where their area is on the field, and they're getting used to that instead of all clumping toward the ball."

It will take a while for the youngsters to reach the level that Meirick and Dooper have achieved on the field, but the kids are slowly learning.

And that's more than enough.

"We're not expecting them to be all-stars," Meirick said. "If they just take one thing per day away from the scrimmage, we'll be happy."


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